Irish Doctors: No Legalized Abortion Not Causing Maternal Deaths

International   |   Lisa Correnti   |   Jan 8, 2013   |   5:03PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

As the abortion debate continues in Ireland hearings commenced today in an Oireachtas committee, Ireland’s legislature where 3 expert obstetricians stated that they knew of no “needless maternal deaths” occurring due to abortion being illegal in Ireland.

It was the first day of a 3-day scheduled hearing where some 40 witnesses and 20 organizations will give testimony meant to inform abortion policy the legislative committee will draft based on the governments decision to legalize abortion when a woman’s life is at risk, including from suicide.

The Irish pro-life group Life Institute reported that Senator Dr. John Crowne, who is one of Ireland’s leading oncologists, asked searching questions of senior Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr. Sam Coulter Smyth, Dr. Mary McCarthy, and Dr. Rhona O’Mahoney at the hearing.

From Life Institute:

Dr. Crowne asked all three if they were aware of instances where there had been “needless maternal deaths” because of the current legal position on abortion.

All three doctors confirmed that they were not aware of any such instances, and that they had not been prevented from providing life-saving medical treatment by Ireland’s laws on abortion.

Dr. Crowne also estimated that there were up to 30 instances arising each year where a pregnancy was brought to an end to save the life of a mother.

He then got to the nub of the issue under discussion, the difference between terminating a pregnancy and terminating the life of an unborn child, when he asked if there were cases which required the killing of the fetus.

Dr. Sam Coulter Smyth said that in most situations there was “no need to kill the fetus” and Dr. Rhona O’Mahoney said that while delivery before viability might be required there was “no intention to kill the fetus”.



Dr. Coulter Smyth and Dr McCarthy also confirmed that not one woman had committed suicide in their hospitals in the 20 years since the X case because they could not obtain an abortion.

Last month Ireland’s cabinet made the decision to allow restricted legal abortion after a young woman died reportedly from being denied an abortion. An investigation is ongoing and the coroner’s inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar opens January 18.

Current Irish Medical Council guidelines do not rule out a termination of pregnancy when the mothers life is at risk. Note: Lisa Correnti writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Turtle Bay and Beyond blog and is used with permission.